Sustainability Symposium Bios

2019 Symposium Keynote Speakers


Judy BlueHorse Skelton, Assistant Professor, Indigenous Nations Studies Program, Portland State University

Judy BlueHorse Skelton teaches Indigenous Ecological Healing Practices, Contemporary Issues in Indian Country, Indigenous Women Leadership, and Indigenous Gardens and Food Justice. She’s worked with federal, state and local Native organizations and tribes throughout the Northwest for more than 25 years, conducting cultural activities focusing on traditional and contemporary uses of native plants for food, medicine, ceremony, and healthy lifeways. In 2017 she received the PSU President’s Diversity Award and in 2014, the Oregon Indian Education Association’s award for Outstanding Indian Educator. Collaborative work includes the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, NARA (Native American Rehabilitation Assn.), the Native American Community Advisory Council to Portland Parks, Metro, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, integrating Indigenous land management practices with Indigenous traditional ecological and cultural knowledge to address Food Sovereignty/Justice and reclaim the urban forest for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Suvira Chaturvedi, UN Adviser/Consultant in international development, gender equality, and women’s empowerment

Suvira Chaturvedi has extensive professional experience in sustainable development in the international context spanning over 30 years with diverse UN agencies (UNDP, UN Women, ILO, UNIFEM, UNICEF), donors such as USAID, World Bank, CARE and others, state and non-state actors. focusing on gender equality, women’s empowerment and right across sectors. She has held senior management and advisory positions providing policy support, strategic planning, technical, managerial and advisory leadership in work with UN agencies. Her field experience cuts across countries and regions in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East and USA.

Among other assignments with the UN, she successfully promoted an initiative in Bangladesh on sustainable employment and economic empowerment of poor rural women including sustainable agricultural practices; led and managed a Community based Training and Economic Empowerment program in Vietnam, and a ground-breaking Gender and Economic Empowerment program in Yemen prior to the Arab Spring . As Head of UNIFEM in Kosovo, she strategically implemented a holistic and sustainable post conflict program ‘Building Peace for an Economically Secure Future for Kosovo Women’ in collaboration with the UN, local and international development actors and women’s rights groups. Partnership building with diverse actors, government, civil society, private sector and others, and community-based approaches for sustainable development have been critical and an integral part of this work.

Suvira resides in Portland and is a consultant in international development.


2019 Symposium Speakers


Jon Biemer

Jon Biemer is a lifetime environmental professional and activist who lives in Portland, Oregon. As a Professional Engineer, he managed energy conservation programs with Bonneville Power Administration. He also holds a certificate in Process-oriented Psychology. Jon currently provides Organizational Development services to environmental organizations. As an activist, Jon has challenged nuclear power, participated in repair cafes, used Free Cycle services, hosted a Village Building Convergence site, walked from Alberta to Nebraska along the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route, lived in a small house, and made sauerkraut. Jon and his wife live in an eco-retrofit house, with a tankless water heater and a food forest, and without a car or a refrigerator. These experiences provide grist for the book Jon is working on, Healing Our Planet: How Handprints Create Sustainability.

Eric Butler

I am an ecologist, geographer, gardener, and lifelong Oregonian. I like to think creatively about how we understand, live in, and care for the landscape.

Tom Carter

I founded Agua Pura 11 years ago to promote modern simple methods of water analysis and water purification that can be done quickly and sustainably to purify contaminated drinking water and prevent water borne diseases.  I have a background in laboratory science and analysis.

Greg Cermak

Greg Cermak is a software engineer and technical trainer with more than thirty years’ experience developing high-performance engineering, scientific, and analytical software applications. He is a NASA Solar System Ambassador and taught Astrobiology at Washington State University – Vancouver. His interests include eScience, technology, history, reading, hiking, bicycling rails to trails and exploring America’s Byways. He is a frequent speaker at school programs, public, and industry events.

Elaine Cole

Elaine Cole, Ph.D., is the Sustainability Coordinator at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus and is responsible for the overall coordination of sustainability practices and programs. Some of these include energy conservation, campus-wide composting, and helping to integrate community-based learning into the campus Learning Garden. Elaine has taught environmental education from the shores of Jekyll Island, Georgia to Lake Tanganyika in Burundi. She has always had a deep commitment to population education and her 2017 TEDX talk was titled Creating Eco-Friendly Families.

Joe Culhane

Joe Culhane is a second year student at Portland Community College. In the 2017-18 school year he served as the Cascade Campus Environmental Justice Coordinator & Director of Student Resources through Student Leadership. He is also on the PCC committee for the Eco Social Justice Grant, Chair of the Outreach sub-committee for the Sustainability Leadership Council, as well as a member of the Sustainable Practices for Academics and Resource Council (SPARC). He also is a staff writer for the PCC student newspaper The Bridge and he is the host of the podcast, PCC, Sustain Me! A Higher Education Sustainability and Environmental Justice Podcast. He is an active member of the Greater Portland Sustainability Education Network (GPSEN), engaged with the College Network and also a part of their Outreach Committee and Programs and Events team as well. Social Justice, equity, inclusion, and community resilience are also strong passions of Joe’s, they inform much of his present and future academic and professional career choices. He’s currently part of PCC’s Illumination Project which is based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. Joe’s sustainable pursuits have him working towards a communications degree with a focus in environmental justice and sustainability. His aim is to help tell better stories as we navigate through these often troubled waters these days. Speaking of water, one day he and his wife have a goal of becoming stewards of, and operate the most sustainable hot springs resort, retreat, and educational center in the world.

Julian Dominic

Raised in the Wissahickon watershed to food-centric singers, he enjoys a good bowl of pasta. When he’s not designing, he uses his skills as an instructor for The City Repair Project and as an environmental educator with Portland Public Schools. Through his travels to various land-based cultures around the world, Julian studied Sustainable Agriculture at Warren Wilson College and now spends his time growing, processing and harvesting annual and perennial foods while finding different ways to gather and feed his family and friends. Ice cream is his weakness.

Serena Dressel

Serena Dressel has worked as a sustainability curriculum and activities focused intern at Portland State University’s Intensive English Language Program (IELP) Communication and Culture Program (CCP) since 2016. In December 2018, Serena attended the 11th Regional Center of Expertise Global Conference in Cebu, the Philippines. Representing the IELP WCCP, Serena accepted a recognized flagship program from the United Nations University on the program’s behalf. Her commitment to the sustainable development goals is shown in her roles at GPSEN, as a board member, secretary, member of multiple committees, and the international committee chair. Serena graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a minor in Indigenous Nations Studies in June 2018.

Mary Fifield

Mary Fifield has fifteen years of experience in the international development sector, with a specific focus on community-driven development and community philanthropy. For five years she served as Executive Director for Amazon Partnerships Foundation in Ecuador, where she worked with Kichwa colleagues to create a grantmaking program for Indigenous communities confronting the climate crisis. She is now principal of Kaleidoscope Consulting in Portland, Oregon, and works with organizations around the world to design grantmaking programs, facilitate trainings and workshops, conduct impact assessments, and research emerging practices in community philanthropy. Her writing and research have been published in the Foundation Review, Alliance Magazine, and the anthology Smart Risks: How Small Grants Are Helping to Solve Some of the World’s Biggest Problems. She also co-produced the award-wining video Life and Breath: Kichwa Communities Confront Climate Change in the Amazon. She is fluent in Spanish and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

Sonali George

Sonali George is a program manager for Datacenter Community Development in Microsoft. She leads the Datacenter Community Advisory Board program and launched the pilot initiative in Amsterdam in 2018.  In her role, she works with Microsoft stakeholders and community leaders to understand community priorities and build sustainable local partnerships for scalable social impact. She also focuses on developing data driven strategies to support community programs and measure social return on investment for Microsoft.  She earned her Double Masters Degree in Business Administration and Management Information Systems with specialization in Entrepreneurship from University of Arizona. During her time at University of Arizona, she was the President of the Net Impact chapter and continues her involvement with Net Impact by driving student engagement in communities. She has a background in computer science engineering from India before coming to the United States for further studies. She loves exploring news ways to combine the best of technology and management principles for social innovation and is passionate about giving back to the community.

Beau Gilbert

Beau is a master’s candidate in Portland State University’s Leadership for Sustainability Education program. They currently hold a student position on campus as the Leadership Programs Coordinator for the Student Sustainability Center. This allows them to work closely with inspiring student leaders who are passionate about sustainability, as well as co-facilitate a sustainability-focused leadership class with Heather Spalding. Beau is also working towards a graduate certificate for Student Affairs in Higher Education, and hopes to combine their passion for sustainable leadership with their desire to create inclusive, holistic learning environments for diverse student populations in higher education.

Nikki Gillis

Public Administrator with 17 years experience in program and project management, including 13 years coordinating international programs for students studying natural resource technology.  In partnership with Agua Pura, we designed and facilitated learning opportunities, workshops, internships and field trips for these diverse student populations. With support from Agua Pura, many graduates have implemented clean water programs, solar ovens and composting toilets in their rural Latin American communities.  As a board member of Agua Pura, I am pleased to continue supporting the work of the organization and its community-focused projects abroad.

Zahra Golshani

I am a research fellow and the co-chair of the research committee at GPSEN. In 2017, I received a grant from Clackamas County to study minorities participation in river conservation and conducted a pilot study on minorities’ participation in river conservation practices. I am currently affiliated with the Institute of Health and Environment at SUNY, collaborating on international training of trainers program as instructor, course developer, facilitator, and student supervisor.

Frank Granshaw

Frank Granshaw is an instructor at Portland State University affiliated with both Geology and University studies, and a faculty fellow in PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions. He is also a board member and research fellow with Greater Portland Sustainable Education Network, an advisory board member for Creation Justice programs at Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and a frequent participant in Union of Concerned Scientists / Science Network delegations to the Oregon State Capital. Besides being trained as a glacial geologist he is an insufferably proud grandpa – Two driving factors in his work.

Gregg Hayward

Gregg serves at the Business Sustainability Outreach Coordinator for the City of Gresham, and volunteers as the Educational Chair of the Association of Oregon Recyclers.

Amy Higgs

Amy is a community engagement leader with 20 years of experience involving people in efforts to advance sustainability and improve education. Amy recently became the first executive director of the Eco-School Network, where she advances the sustainability efforts of parents and students in four Portland-area school districts. Amy is a long-time member of the Eco-School Network, where she previously facilitated Network leadership trainings and organized a low-carbon transportation system for the Emerson School.

With a lifelong passion for schools and sustainability, Amy launched and managed an international network of environmental educators for Conservation International, consulted to schools working to advance sustainability, and most recently served as Vice President of LCA, a local community engagement firm. Amy holds a Masters in Education Leadership and a Masters in Natural Resource Management and Behavior from the University of Michigan.

Davida Jordan

With over seventeen years of experience teaching English as a Second Language, I bring a deep understanding of language, grammar, instruction, and materials development. At the same time, I am always learning on the job by interacting with students from all over the world, teaching new courses, and creating new activities and courses. I embrace opportunities for professional development. I have a passion for language and culture and am nourished by the richness of diversity in my classroom. As a teacher, my job is to help my students to learn how to thrive in the United States while maintaining their own unique cultures. Three areas that intersect with my English teaching are sustainability, service learning, and disability advocacy. I am interested in incorporating aspects of all three of these areas into my classroom through the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Elaine “Jinx” Kuehn

As a Board member of Agua Pura, I am happy to support improved access clean water for folks in rural Latin American communities. I am a retired water/storm water engineer.  My work included planning and design of water systems, and reducing pollution in storm water from highway runoff. When younger, I worked with non-profits that helped folks experiencing poverty and folks who were refugees from Latin America.  I also support the United Farm Workers who work for their rights to be safe from pesticides and to have basic human needs met such as having clean water in the fields.

Jenny Lee

Jenny Lee is the Advocacy Director at the Coalition of Communities of Color, a cross-cultural alliance of culturally specific organizations taking collective action for racial justice. Prior to her role at CCC, she was the Housing Policy Director at Neighborhood Partnerships, where she helped convene the Oregon Housing Alliance. She also worked as the public policy director for Hawai‘i Appleseed in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, where she engaged in advocacy on issues impacting low-income communities. She also served as an AmeriCorps member at a SUN School in Southeast Portland. Jenny holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Oregon.

Pete Lee

Pete Lee has spent the last four years researching the ways and means that we can ‘democratize’ energy for greener, more resilient, and economically-just access. He is an alum of multiple years of Energy Policy courses at Portland State University, including a research project to articulate a new electric grid vision for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. 2019 marks the third year Pete has participated in Citizen Lobby Day for the Renew Oregon Clean Energy Jobs campaign.  As the son of immigrants from Korea, giving back to the community is one of Pete’s highest priorities: he presently serves as a volunteer EMT with the Multnomah County Medical Reserve Corps, a ham radio operator with the Multnomah County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, and is on the board of directors for Health Care for All Oregon Action and the Finlandia Foundation Columbia-Pacific Chapter. 

On the professional front, Pete is a Senior Business Analyst at Bonneville Power Administration. Over the last 10 years, his primary professional focus is on improving BPA’s commercial business processes, including analysis to integrate more renewable energy sources into a publicly-owned transmission grid that spans four states. Previously, he has been a lead/senior consultant to companies in the Portland area, in a diversity of industry sectors that include healthcare, clinical information systems, insurance and networking.

Anne LeSenne

Anne LeSenne has a Masters in Plant & Soil Science from Texas Tech University, and is a Master Arborist and Beekeeper. She works in the Landscape Technology Department and is currently teaching Beekeeping classes Spring and Summer terms at Portland Community College, and is a key person in the annual Certification of Bee Campus USA and Tree Campus USA for the college. She is constantly working on increasing pollinator habitat and survivability here in the Pacific Northwest through education and technology. Follow on Instagram @pccbeekeepers.

Oriana Magnera

Oriana Magnera is the Climate and Energy Policy Coordinator at Verde, a community-based organization that builds community wealth and resiliency through environmental and energy projects, outreach and advocacy. Oriana sits on the board of the Oregon Solar Energy Association and previously worked in energy policy at the Northwest Energy Coalition, where she brought an environmental justice lens to the organization’s work. In her spare time she advocates around racial justice, housing policy, hygiene access for unhoused folkx, and spends time with her three dogs.

Rod McAfee

Rod McAfee is an Akimel O’odham (Pima) elder.  He is a retired drug and alcohol counselor for the Native American Rehabilitation Association. For fifteen years, he led ceremonies in Oregon and Washington prisons. He is lead singer for the Spirit Learning Drum.

E.D. Mondaine

Is a True Believer, rooted in the power of love, uplifted by the power of Spirit, and humbled by the power of miracles. Who believes that; through us, all good things are possible. Through our unity, the miraculous is made real.”

A 35 year Portland Native, Philanthropist. Activist. Entrepreneur. Author. Public speaker. Civic leader. Musician, owner of Po’Shines Cafe, President of the Portland NAACP, and one of the Chief partitioners for the Portland Clean Energy Initiative – and most importantly – Grandpa to 5 grandchildren.

Joy Mutare Fashu Kanu

Joy Mutare Fashu Kanu emigrated from Zimbabwe in 1997 after graduating from the University of Zimbabwe with a Honors degree in Business Studies. While she went further to attain an MBA from Syracuse University, the proximity to Maxwell School of Public Administration opened the door for pursuing her true passion, combining scholarship with activism. Having been heavily impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Joy has made the health outcomes of marginalized populations social justice priority and studies the ways societies shape patterns of disease.

Because issues of HIV/AIDS hit very close to heart, Joy founded Project It Takes A Village, Inc., (PiTaV, Inc.), as an organization dedicated to mitigating social inequalities “one child at a time” by offering scholarships to primary and high school children who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS.
Her desire is to support the dreams of children who dare to aspire to great things despite their challenges…She is partner to Sam and mother to 4.

Linda Neale

In 2011, Linda Neale published The Power of Ceremony: Restoring the Sacred in Our Selves, Our Families, Our Communities. She is a marriage therapist and founder of the Earth & Spirit Council. She is recognized as an elder and ceremonial facilitator. Rod McAfee is an Akimel O’odham (Pima) elder.  

Nancy Nordman

I am a recent graduate from PSU’s Leadership in Sustainability master’s program and have been working in sustainability for the past 6 years, starting with AmeriCorp in San Jose, CA. I am passionate about sustainability and, in particular, waste reduction, recycling, and plastic pollution. My time at PSU was spent working on food waste reduction running Campus Sustainability Office’s No Scrap Left Behind program, doing waste audits with CES, and interning with ROSE CDC and Washington County. I currently work at Metro’s Recycling Information Hotline and at the Oregon Convention Center as a sustainability intern. I began volunteering with Surfrider in 2015 and have been leading #DitchtheStrawPDX since August of 2017 as part of our executive team. The Portland Chapter of Surfrider is entirely volunteer run and relies heavily on grassroots activism and volunteer engagement.

Taryn Oakley

Taryn has been teaching environmental studies at PCC for the past 10 years. She also lead’s the Green Team on Cascade campus and is involved with PCC’s SPARC (Sustainable Practices for Academics and Resources Council). She also co-leads the Divestment team at 350PDX and sits on the Board of Directors for Peace Village Global.

Linda C. Pope

Ms. Pope taught sustainability (and other related courses) at the college level for over 20 years and K-12 students for a decade. She developed courses on individual sustainability, incorporating community-based learning (CBL) with transformative results for everyone involved—students, houseless, and Linda. She wrote and published two books: one on sustainability and the other on the construction of the first tiny house built by her students. The CBL experience and the construction of two tiny houses by her students was published as an article for the Journal of Sustainability Education in July 2018.

Linda is currently working on her PhD in Sustainability Education at Prescott College. Her dissertation project involves the design of a net zero impact tiny house micro business ecovillage. Linda has a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University, and a second Master’s in Plant Physiological Ecology from the University of Maryland.

Briar Schoon

Briar is the Sustainability Manager at Portland Community College, with the focus of mainstreaming sustainability throughout all college practices district-wide. She has taught sustainability courses at PCC and sits on the Board of Directors for the Greater Portland Sustainability Education Network. She holds a Master’s Degree in Sustainability from Arizona State University, as well as a B.A. in Sustainability and a B.S. in Justice Studies. She is a LEED Green Associate and received her Master Gardener certification in 2016. Briar has represented the college at the local, national and international-level, most recently at the UN Climate Change Conference COP 23 in Bonn, Germany! She likes to spend her free time crafting, gardening, and playing with her kitty.

Heather Spalding

Heather coordinates the Student Sustainability Center within Student Activities and Leadership Programs at Portland State University (PSU). She has a Master of Science Educational Leadership and Policy with a specialization in Leadership for Sustainability Education at PSU. She also completed a permaculture and whole systems design certificate and is certified as a yoga instructor with a focus on restorative techniques. Heather participates in the advisory council for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), is board president for GPSEN, is the Region V Sustainability Knowledge Community Representative and board member for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), and is designing sustainability program standards through the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education.

Bob Tait

Director of WAPIs for the World, a non-profit 501(c)3 ministry under the umbrella of Extra Mile Ministries (Clackamas, Oregon) assisting globally with safe-clean healthy water for survival. WAPI, an acronym for Water Pasteurization Indicator, is needed and used in developing countries and impoverished communities including the US. We teach villagers how to use the WAPI for potable clean water, personal hygiene and sanitation.

Adriana Voss-Andreae

Adriana earned two doctorates, an MD and a PhD in neuroscience, from OHSU. In parallel to her scientific work, Adriana devoted herself for over a decade to public health advocacy with a focus on low-income women and children’s health and food justice policy. Feeling a growing calling to do everything in her power to address the root causes of climate disruption, Adriana changed her life’s path and founded 350PDX in 2013. As former executive director, she helped lead the organization to its expansion of over 10,000 supporters and to a series of major climate policy actions by the City of Portland. Most recently Adriana was co-chief petitioner and served on the executive committee of the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF), a groundbreaking frontline-led ballot initiative campaign that models a city-level Green New Deal. She sees the current climate crisis as an unprecedented opportunity to reshape our communities and our world through transformative solutions.

Amelia Weesies

Amelia is a student soon to be transferring to U of O to study Folklore and Dance. A group of friends and I (from all different spiritual paths) have started a gathering in the forest to experience ‘church’ among the trees with no walls. We are interested in deepening our relationship as a community to the Earth. For me, deepening our connection and relationship to the earth is crucial at this time as we move towards expansive practices of sustainability.

Dr. Mary Ann Westfall, MD.

Physician trained in Tropical Medicine and Board Member of Agua Pura.

Rachel Willis

Rachel is a sustainability educator focusing on slow, yet radical change through relationship building. Rachel recently graduated from the Leadership for Sustainability Education Masters program at Portland State University where she studied the intricate connections between social justice and sustainability. She is applying this experience as the Program Coordinator for the Eco-School Network, supporting parents as they envision and lead change for more sustainable schools. Previously, Rachel served as the Confluence Environmental Center AmeriCorps member for Portland Public Schools and as a Sustainability Coordinator for Skidmore College.